Long Distance Caregiving: Bridge the Gap with Technology

January 21, 2010 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

Staying in touch with Mom and Dad has never been easier. Long distance caregiving certainly has its worries and frustrations–but that gap can be bridged with technology. Cell phones, web cams, online searches for resources, home monitoring systems, online care management, and coordinating community resources can buy your parents years of aging in place and enjoying the comforts of their own home.

Five Technologies that Bridge the Long Distance Caregiving Gap:

  • Easy to use cell phones: Check out Jitterbug, Clarity Life…many cell phone companies offer less complicated phones with big buttons and easy-to-see screens. There are quite a few personal alert systems for seniors, but remember that many illnesses can impair a person’s ability to remember to press the call button–a spike in blood sugars, stroke, or dementia/Alzheimer’s can impede your loved one’s ability to reach out for help. Some services also call your family members once or twice a day to assess how they’re doing.
  • Web cams: There’s nothing like seeing that your parents are doing well. This may be more suited for seniors more than elders who are not computer proficient. You need a computer for this–and it may rely on your loved one’s ability to operate a computer, but you can set it up when you’re in town. Consider using Skype. It’s quite easy and it case save you a bundle on long-distance. Warning: the picture isn’t always clear and there’s some lag time, but it really does make you feel closer to see your loved one and talk to them at the same time.  There’s even a Center for Aging Service Technologies that keep abreast of how we can best care for our elders.
  • Monistor care online: Geriatric care management companies can actually save you money! I know of too many families hopping planes at the last-minute and getting to their parents to find that it’s not an emergency. A geriatric care manager does just that–manages the situation for you. They can coördinate care, monitor the situation, and give you peace of mind. And…what’s great is that there are now online versions such as Carerunner.com where you and your siblings can log in and help manage your parent’s care with their team of professionals.  
  • Home upgrades for aging safety: It might not be technology per se, but making sure your parent’s home is easy and safe to live in.  It’ll give you the peace of mind that they’re not going to fall down the stairs, or slip in the tub.
  • Get yourself online caregiving education: This time the technology is for you! Caregiver resources, information, and support is as easy as a Google search. Visit Aging in Place for more ideas about how to help your parents continue to live at home, or go to the Alzheimer’s Association forum boards for emotional support and caregiver questions, or AARP’s extensive website for great aging info. The more you educate yourself, the easier caregiving gets.

One of the best things my mother ever did was to insist that I call her every day–and visit her once a week. The were “the rules.” Now, I look back and realize that they were good rules. They kept us close, they kept my mother’s care consistent–and in time–she needed much more than a phone call. Caregiving usually builds–but that time your parent gets to live at home for just a little bit longer, is worth the effort.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving.

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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